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Infectious Diseases

11 May 2020

Coronavirus morning update: SA cases pass 10 000, as concerns raised over Western and Eastern Cape

Your latest coronavirus news: More than 10 000 cases have now been reported in South Africa, as Health Minister Zweli Mkhize expressed concern that the Western Cape and Eastern Cape combined comprised 84% of the total new cases.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 10 015.

According to the latest update, 194 deaths have been recorded in the country.

So far, 341 336 tests have been conducted, with more than 17 000 new tests.

In the latest update, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said "we note with concern that the Western Cape and Eastern Cape combined comprises 84% of the total new cases".

The Western Cape now has 5 168 cases, while the Eastern Cape has 1 218.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Four minutes and 28 seconds. That is how long it took a News24 reporter to find cigarettes – meant to be banned under Level 4 lockdown regulations – which were available for purchase at one of many places in South Africa.

With Level 4 lockdown in place and the sale of cigarettes prohibited, smokers have not had to search long and hard for a fix, as supply has been made available on the black market, it appears.

Recent research by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), conducted in April, said "a quarter of people in informal settlements were able to buy cigarettes".

This was double the number in formal areas.

READ MORE | Smoke and mirrors: 4 minutes – that's how long it took to find banned cigarettes during lockdown

While the phased-in reopening of schools in South Africa in the midst of Covid-19 remains provisional and sensitive, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has advised principals and school management teams (SMT) to wait a few more days before returning this week.

SMTs were meant to return to schools from Monday, 11 May, to prepare for pupils' phasing in, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced two weeks ago.

But in a letter from the WCED to public school principals and SMTs, which News24 has seen, the department advises that principals and staff hold back as it waits for direction from Motshekga on the national situation on preparations.

The department said it had been made aware that not all provinces were ready to return on Monday.

READ MORE | Coronavirus: WC education dept advises principals, management to hold back from returning on Monday

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says more than 40 000 vehicles were stopped at 355 roadblocks between 4-7 May in the province, resulting in more than 1 000 people being arrested.

During these roadblocks, 40 088 vehicles were stopped and 87 507 people were searched, Zikalala said.

It led to the arrest of 1 182 people, while 450 admission of guilt fines were issued.

Meanwhile, 2 744 liquor and business inspections were conducted and 155 non-compliant sites identified.

Zikalala warned that private firms contravening lockdown regulations will "feel the heat" of the army and police.

READ MORE | Lockdown: More than 1 000 arrests in KZN as Zikalala appeals to public to follow regulations

In a typical year, six million people fly between Johannesburg and Cape Town. At approximately 16 000 passengers per day, the roughly 1,200 kilometre flight follows a route that consistently ranks as Africa’s busiest.

The route between Johannesburg and Durban isn’t far behind: some 12 000 people boarded flights between those two cities every day in 2019, according to figures by global aviation data company OAG, formerly the Official Aviation Guide.

But as Comair, the parent company of Kulula and the local operator of British Airways flights, follows South African Airways into business rescue, the future of affordable – or even sufficient – flights between these destinations hangs in the balance.

Comair says its business rescue move is designed to make the airline more "efficient, agile and customer-centric”. It reported a half-year loss of R564 million for the first half of 2020. 

Many of the world’s airlines - with far fewer complications than those of Comair - are staring down bankruptcy because of Covid-19, and the closure of Kulula could mean a drastic shortage of available seats in local airspace.

READ MORE | If air travel ever goes back to pre-Covid-19 levels in SA, getting a seat may be tough

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Cases update:

For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Late on Sunday night, positive cases worldwide were close to 4.09 million, while deaths were almost 282 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 1.32 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 79 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

China on Sunday reported the first case of coronavirus in over a month in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first started in December last year.

China's National Health Commission also reported the first double-digit increase in countrywide cases in nearly 10 days, saying 14 new infections had been confirmed.

Two of the cases were imported into the country from overseas, the commission said.

The virus first emerged in Wuhan, a major industrial and transport city in central China, in December.

READ MORE | Wuhan reports first virus infection in over a month

While many people in Iran's capital are taking advantage of loosened Covid-19 controls, some worry about a new spike in infections in what remains the Middle East's deadliest virus epicentre.

"The line of fools," muttered shopkeeper Manouchehr, peering disdainfully at a queue of customers outside a foreign currency dealer in the Sadeghieh district of western Tehran.

Many in the long line stood close to one another and did not wear masks.

A traffic policeman told AFP such queues have appeared regularly ever since the money changers re-opened. People rarely observe basic anti-contagion protocols, he complained.

READ MORE | Iranians fearful as virus infections rebound amid eased lockdown

Russia recorded 10 817 new cases of the coronavirus in one day, marking the seventh day in a row the country counted more than 10 000 cases.

Reuters reported that Russian authorities said Saturday the new cases bring the total number of cases to 198 676. The country's coronavirus taskforce said that 104 people had died overnight, bringing the national death toll to 1 827.

The new totals mark Russia's ascent to the top rank of countries hit hardest by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as it has now surpassed that of France and Germany to become the site of the fifth-most infections in the world, Reuters noted.

Moscow, the country's capital, has been under lockdown since late March in response to the pandemic, in addition to some other regions.

READ MORE | Russia recorded more than 10 000 new coronavirus cases for the 7th day in a row

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Maintain physical distancing – stay at least one metre away from somebody who is coughing or sneezing

• Practise frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as your hands touch many surfaces and could potentially transfer the virus

• Practise respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Remember to dispose the tissue immediately after use.

READ MORE: Coronavirus 101 

Image credit: Getty Images